Action-packed but fecklessly flat.

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STEAM

A young boy is flung into a steam-powered world as he searches for a way to save his lost father and an entire planet in Ford, Leslie, and de la Cruz’s debut collaboration.

Neglected and abused since his father Henry’s disappearance, young Arlo finds a strange machine and is thrown into an alternate world called Pother. New friends explain that Henry has been kidnapped and Arlo is also in serious danger. Two feuding factions—one worships a machine, the other an unseen deity—and spectral planet natives that inhabit the dead would be enough, but there’s also the malevolent corporate force from Earth called the Prerogative that is draining Pother’s natural resources and killing the planet. Worst of all? Arlo’s father is responsible for bringing it to Pother in the first place. Now Arlo must seek out the planet’s natives to save both his father and Pother. Despite lively art and a decent stab at steampunk worldbuilding, this graphic novel falls short thanks to an already overdone premise. Plot serves action rather than vice versa and sprints toward a sequel-desperate conclusion, leaving readers with underdeveloped characterization and a confused tangle of plot detail fragments. And even with the benefit of two planets to populate, the novel features a single, extremely peripheral, character of color.

Action-packed but fecklessly flat. (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-50671-726-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dark House

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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